Latest reviews of new albums:
The King
  • Composed by Nicholas Britell
  • Lakeshore / 43m

An ambitious Shakespeare adaptation, The King in question is Henry V. It’s quite distinctive and impressive but always feels like it’s lacking a bit of oomph. Nicholas Britell’s down and dirty score is the perfect complement: it broods (boy does it brood), it haunts, it grows as it goes – he’s making real waves as a film composer and it’s not hard to see why. There’s a grown-up quality to his music that much film music, 2019 lacks – a thoughtfulness, but also a genuinely wonderful refusal to adhere to the way things are generally going.

The sheer tragedy of “Song of Hal” has to be heard to be believed – it’s arrestingly sorrowful. But contrast this with the deeply-entrenched determination of “Canticle in E Minor” – small in scale but so big in ambition. There’s a three-part “Hymn” which seems to be suggesting a kind of god-like status for the king, which makes sense. The album is resolutely not an easy listen – it’s frequently as black as coal, in parts really rather difficult – don’t expect anything like the two famous earlier Henry V scores. But really, it’s great that there is a place today for a film score like this – Britell is a smart, impressive composer who’s surely got a wonderful career ahead of him. The King is so dramatically potent and the emotion runs deep – it’s subtle and that’s becoming so much less common, it’s actually really enriching hearing something where you have to put the effort in to get the reward.

Rating: ****

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